January 9, 2015

M7: Procedures Delaying Railway Deal

President Yoweri Museveni says that he will not let people hiding behind procedural grounds to delay the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

President Museveni
President Museveni

He said that Uganda urgently needs the railway from Kenya through Uganda to South Sudan lest it will miss out of all strategic linkages in the region.

Museveni was yesterday evening meeting a select committee of parliament that is currently probing controversy surrounding the construction of the Ugx 22 trillion railway.

The controversy stems from the cancellation of a contract to upgrade a section of the Railway from Malaba-Kampala and Bukasa port railway line to standard gauge.

The contract was first awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) in 2012 and later to China Harbor Engineering Corporation (CHEC).

Uganda risks losing over Ugx 50Billion in legal costs for cancelling the agreement if China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) wins the court battle started thereafter.

The President stated that allegations of bribery in the procurement of the railway construction company are to be ascertained by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) who he said had already kicked off with investigations.

He however declined to name the alleged corrupt officials saying that they will be known when they are arrested and charged.

“We shall not tolerate any corrupt group in our projects, I do not want to go into details because some of it is intelligence, confidential information but that is one of our benchmarks. Otherwise if they are not in court, it could be speculation and it could even be defamation, you cannot talk about somebody if he is not in court,” Museveni explained.

Museveni also denied directing any government official to circumvent procurement regulations saying that the procurement regulations are very well stipulated and it is therefore not essential to direct anybody on how to deal with them.

Initial reports indicated that the president had directed the “feasibility study undertaken by government be given to CHEC at no cost.

“I can never say ignore procurement regulations because they are broad enough to cover all legitimate work”, said Museveni.

Nakifuma County MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko, the select committee chairperson said that the President told the committee that the cancellation of the initial MOU was caused by the knowledge that the company had bribed a few government officials.

“In principle, he disagreed with them and he made sure that no Chinese company gets the contract through a bribe, so he agreed with the termination but the technical people probably didn’t handle it in a lawful manner.” Kafeero said.

However, some committee members expressed reservation on the president’s submissions.

Maruzi County MP Maxwell Akora said that the committee explored all areas that the President was involved in but that many questions were left unanswered since the President could not share some of the information that informed some of his decisions in the project saying that it was confidential.

Kumi County MP Amuriat Oboi said that from the interaction, it was clear that the President was being driven by the want for the railway and did not want anything to stand in his way.

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